In week five of our sermon series, we look at the role of the Church. A universal Church was born out of the ministry of Jesus, and this Church is empowered to look like the Cross. In this sermon, Greg shows us why it’s so important, as the Church, to keep our eyes fixed on the cross.
In the previous four weeks of our sermon series, The Forest In The Trees, we’ve seen the story of creation and how it all went awry when humanity chose to give up it’s authority. We then learned of how God was to work through the family of Abram to bring a people into the world that would be God’s chosen people. In week three, we found out how the people of Israel failed to live up to this high calling. Last week, we heard the story of Jesus and how Jesus would fulfill the high calling and become the way that God would reconcile his creation.
This week, we’re focusing on the continuing story of God’s redeeming work in creation. When Jesus was on this Earth, he began to train his disciples to carry his message throughout the world. These disciples would carry the message that Jesus gave them into the world, and they would be known as the Church.
In everything, the Church is called to reflect the cross. The cross embodies self-sacrificial love for everyone up to and including our enemies. It is a humble reminder of an all-mighty God who gave up everything and became a human. It reminds us of obedience in the face of adversity and comfort in the face of sadness. The cross shows us how we should die to this life in order to live the new life that Jesus has given us.
Many times throughout history, the Church has looked to other things to fulfill its role in this world. The New Testament church spread like wildfire when it embodied the cross. Frequently, its followers would be beaten and even killed for what they believe. Yet, it was never stamped out. A few centuries later, however, it became the state religion of Rome and was forever changed. Now, instead of being a cross-focused people, Christians began to follow the way of power in this world. Instead of dying for our enemies, we began to kill others who didn’t believe in Jesus.
Even today, some things draw our eyes away from the cross. In our western culture, it is easy to be caught up in the idea that America is a Christian nation and should be. But Jesus dispelled the notion of his Church being founded as a nation. And still others situations arise where people forget to treat others with cross-like love. One of the ways in which marriages succeed is when both people are treating each other with a cross-like love instead of a self-serving love. And there are many more instances of where cross-like love should be given instead of the world’s way of doing things.
In all things, a follower of Jesus must keep their eyes focused on the cross when living their life. This will mean a life of sacrifice, suffering and death to the way that we want to do things. But, in being born into a new family and way of life, we should greet this new life with gladness as we live out the life of the Church. As the present day people in God’s story of redeeming creation, we have a significant part to play, and it will require much from us. But, in this suffering and death, we begin to see how Jesus makes a difference in this world and in our lives.
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4 thoughts on “The Church”
The “church” i attended is all about the Cross…but…only the forgiveness of sin aspect…which is still short-changing the Gospel….please pray for us over here.
Wow!!! Once again, an absolutely incredible message! Greg really knocked that one clear outta the park!!!! Loving others with “Cross-Like-Love” is……. the second most important thing that we will ever do!
When speaking to the Church at Ephesus Paul said, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10).
Paul is saying that even before our birth, our Christlike love and attributes were destined to be part of us but, through sin, we chose the self life (which is death), and the inability to be His sons for which we were originally created. Now the Church, in effect, becomes a congregation of restored (born again) Sons of God who, through the process of spiritual reformation, can now undertake those good works by being a new creation in Christ, living His life, and therefore presenting His love to the world both individually and corporately.
Wow Greg, God bless you, thank you for your willingness to bring us these messages as God speaks on your heart to do so. Your passion is amazing, I hang on the words that you give us, the prayers, all that the Lord places on your heart….. I am so so so very blessed by these messages. Praise God for you and your courage to embrace the radical Jesus in the face of opposition, I’m sure, from mainstream Christianity, and to be a leader who is committed to sharing the real life of Jesus, teaching us in such ways that are practical so that we can digest and make sense of what the life and death of Jesus means for us and all of scripture, that we may also experience what it is like to live in Him and He in us!
The message about taking thoughts captive has been huge for me, I too find myself when I am “awake” judging, and when one works at the government center for probation there isn’t any lack of opportunity! What the teachings I am learning from this church are doing is changing the way I view people, the way I view their lives as I see the darkness of this world in all it’s facets differently now, and I pray for people and lift them up to the Lord and ask for the light to shine in their lives in such a way that transforms them – oh what suffering people go through – and to just bless them, give them a kind word, a smile like Jesus would smile. It is a tremendous amount of work………..I fail all the time, catch myself and begin again, over and over. It still feels a bit strange to think like this, I’ve even caught myself wondering if I’m sane, how nutty is this, and then I remember the sermon where you talk about the two way conversation we all have in our heads, and instantly when I make it a three way conversation I recognize Satan’s stinging arrows of deceit, praise Jesus. I’m not insane!
I have learned so much since February when I began listening online and coming to the church when I can for these messages, I don’t miss a single weeks sermon! God bless you, protect you, bless and protect WHC, all of you are in my prayers daily.